Truffles? The result of the symbiosis of fungi and plants
There is a close relationship between fungi and roots that leads to the development of truffles. This was revealed in a study conducted by an international team of researchers who have sequenced the genome of several species of ascomycetes fungi.
All truffles result from the symbiosis of fungi and tree roots, a relationship that is crucial for the ecosystem balance, to drive the evolution process of the different species of truffles and to select their specific traits.
Published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the study was conducted by an international research team led by Francis Martin of INRA, within the 1KFG Project, in collaboration with the Italian Universities of Bologna, Turin, Parma, L’Aquila and IPSP-CNR and IBB-CNR.
Researchers focused on eight species of fungi and, by comparing the different results, outlines an initial evolutionary scenario for the different species of truffle.
“These results show that the genome characteristics of all truffle species are very similar”, said Alessandra Zambonelli, Professor at the University of Bologna. “In the main evolutionary lineages, truffle-forming species have differentiated independently. This suggests that symbiosis drives evolution of truffle diversity and selects for specific traits”.
The comparative analysis has also shown some details on the distinctive odors of truffles: according to researchers, the volatile organic compounds that produce these scents generated by specific genetic innovations, but are based on the existing genetic repertoire that is expressed in a characteristic way.